BERLIN (Reuters) - Rising new orders helped Germany's private sector grow for the sixth month running in October, a survey showed on Wednesday, in a sign Europe's largest economy is expanding steadily in the fourth quarter.
Markit's final composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks growth in both the manufacturing and services sector, held steady at 53.2 in October, staying above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.
An initial reading out two weeks ago had shown a fall to 52.6.
The services sector PMI slipped in October to 52.9 from 53.7 the month before, although that marked an improvement on the preliminary reading of 52.3.
"Service providers joined manufacturers in reporting solid expansions of both output and incoming new orders during October," said Tim Moore at Markit.
"The latest survey indicates a continued improvement in the German economy at the start of the fourth quarter, with the pace of output growth broadly matching the trend seen throughout this summer."
The sub-index for new business in the private sector rose to 52.7 from 52.3 in September, beating the preliminary estimate of a fall to 51.9.
The PMI survey also showed backlogs of work increased slightly although staffing levels fell.
The German economy put in a strong performance during the early years of the euro zone crisis but weakened last year and suffered a subdued start to 2013.
While it bounced back in the second quarter, economists generally expect slower albeit solid growth for the remainder of this year.
Service providers reported the strongest business outlook for six months, the PMI survey showed.
However, the services sector grew at a slower pace in October than in the previous month, with firms cutting jobs for the first time since June and backlogs of work declining.
Moreover, there were signs of a squeeze on margins with costs increasing faster than firms could raise their prices.
Across the private sector as a whole, cost inflation hit a 12-month high, while output charges increased only slightly.
(Reporting By Sarah Marsh; Editing by Hugh Lawson)